Happy Holidays Vlad

The initial impeachment hearings have wrapped up, and it seems that Russia is still wreaking havoc in the United States. We have an election coming up with “weak” candidates (and maybe one “Russian asset”), an impeachment in progress for a “corrupt” president, a significant portion …

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The Power of the Press: Abusive Power That Is

Again, and again the press plays into the Trump narrative on the “fake news media.” Let’s cut to the chase. Big is bad. The larger and more entrenched an organization is, be it political, private or media, the more corrupt and more protective of itself …

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Never Give an Inch: The Impeachment Conundrum

When you have one group of clowns trying to impeach another clown, it is really no surprise that the public is split on the impeachment question. The President of the United States may have abused his power and may have attempted a shakedown of a …

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The Politics of Personal Destruction and Congresswoman Katie Hill

Both sides want to end the politics of personal destruction, except of course, when it benefits their own side. “The politics of personal destruction” is a phrase originating from conservatives that characterize how Democrats personally demonize anyone that they disagree with. Of course, we know …

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Supreme Court “Politicization”

Is the Supreme Court really becoming too political, or is it just our overly partisan reactions to their decisions and a do-nothing Congress that are the true problems?

The Supreme Court is back in session with many critical cases at hand. Accusations of the court being too political continue unabated, and presidential hopefuls continue to threaten a supreme make-over to ensure that decisions are made in line with the preferred outcomes desired by those candidates. Of course, there are differing judicial philosophies among the judges, but I do not see the court itself as being any more or less political than it has been in the past.

What I do see is that our reactions to their decisions have become as ridiculously partisan as everything else that the other two branches touch, with their hyper-partisan extremes leading the way. When we want a change in direction or a change in how things are done, it is up to Congress to produce and pass new legislation in concert with the Executive Branch. It should not be up to the Supreme Court to have to do the other two branches’ bidding.

Take some of the cases coming before the court this term. There are cases involving LGBTQ rights, particularly concerning whether the Civil Rights Act’s prohibitions on sex discrimination in the workplace also covers the LGBTQ community.

In arguments before the court concerning these cases, justices seem split on a literal interpretation of the Civil Rights Act which could be all-inclusive, based on the limited language, vs. looking at the intent at the time of the legislation, which may not have factored in gender identity or sexual orientation. Personally, it is clear to me that sexual orientation and gender identity should already be covered by the legislation, as discrimination in these cases is based on generalizations that have nothing to do with the ability to perform the job. However, I do understand the validity of the opposing philosophy. These are legitimate differences in judicial opinion, not necessarily the court becoming too political.

Why has Congress not acted to legislatively clarify the Civil Rights Act to specifically cover the LGBTQ community? They passed the act in the first place. The argument will be that any bill cannot be passed in the current environment, but that is a cop-out. Their job is to legislate, not to use their inability to legislate as a means to raise money for reelection.

Politicians would rather posture than to even try and work together, which is the largest single threat to our democracy, in my opinion. The Republic’s health rests on all three branches doing their part in the governing process, and, for far too long, Congress has been punting their duties to either the Executive Branch, for Presidents to sign executive orders that can easily be undone with a changing administration, or relying on the courts to legislate, since apparently, Congress is incapable of doing so.

It is time we hold Congress accountable for their dismal performance and demand that they at least try and do their jobs and pass legislation that helps the people they are supposed to serve.

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Timeshare at the End of the World

William Eckenberg/The New York Times

Prepping for the end? No need to go it alone.

Back in the 1960s through even much of the 1980s, there was the distinct possibility of nuclear war. That was all brought on of course by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Those that could afford them built bomb shelters in their back yards to survive the potential holocaust or nuclear winter that was predicted in the event of war. I remember in the ’80s going to a party once at a house that had one of those bomb shelters. A unique party spot indeed, but kind of creepy and cramped.

As students, we had drills to practice ‘protective measures’ from a nuclear war including, of all things, crouching under our desktops, as if that would protect us from an exploding hydrogen bomb. Those must have been some great desks! It was all kind of scary, and it got even scarier when Reagan got elected since Democrats and the media guaranteed that he would most certainly get us into a nuclear war. We waited for the inevitable sirens, but they never came, thankfully.

Best selling books like The Late Great Planet Earth, published in the 1970s predicted the second coming and times of tribulation. Survivalism sprang up and became a new “thing,” which continues to fly under the radar, flaring up occasionally, even through today. Reality television shows like ‘Doomsday Preppers’ popped up to document the life of those preparing to survive the end.

I recently read about an ‘end times’ concept that sounded a lot like a timeshare. We all know those hard sells when you agree to a free tour, so I can just imagine what a sales tour of the Fortitude Ranch must be like:

“Welcome to the Fortitude Ranch. We plan on having a total of 12 beautiful scenic locations (at least they will be before the apocalypse!). Currently we have one in Colorado and of course ‘wild and wonderful West (by God)’ Virginia, with plans for additional locations in Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We offer to you a wide range of fun-filled activities like hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, campfires with roasted marshmallows and of course, lots of activities involving guns and other assorted weaponry, including crossbows. Our premier weapon for your use is our great big .50 caliber sniper rifle! We’re not just about fun, however; we want to educate you on key life skills like farming, ranching, and a variety of key survivalist tactics and training.”

I am not sure if they have any contingencies for zombies. Anyway, that’s how I sort of imagine the sales pitch going. A member becomes one of the survivalist community and has a place for recreation in the good times and to take refuge in in the end times. Like any good timeshare, there are membership levels ranging from Spartan (shared space, private locker) to Luxury (private space, room storage).

It all sounds interesting, but maybe it’s just best to go down with the ship.

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Fear in the Shadows

Marginalizing the transgender community is making them increasingly susceptible to hate crimes.

I recently read an article in the New York Times headlined, “18 Transgender Killings This Year Raise Fears of an ‘Epidemic’.” The headline sounded ominous enough for me to delve deeper into the story. On one hand, 18 killings certainly didn’t seem like “epidemic” numbers, but on the other hand, there could be more to the story, and no group of persons deserves to be ignored or marginalized within our society.

In analyzing the available numbers, it is hard to make a case that the murder rate for the transgender community is higher than that of the overall murder rate. Transgender advocates would argue, however, that any such comparisons can be misleading, as law enforcement data shows that crimes committed against transgender people often go unreported, or are incomplete in key information, leaving those incidents ‘unidentified’ as possible transgender crimes.

The advocates may be right, as the killings of transgender people are increasing from year to year and are documented as often as possible, by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Another disturbing aspect of these killings, as reported by the New York Times, is that the murders are disproportionately against transgender women of color, adding a racial component.

Certain 2020 presidential hopefuls are also taking note, stating that more needs to be done to protect the transgender community, be it increasing awareness or strengthening hate crime laws. But would strengthening hate crime laws even work as a deterrence? We ramped-up the laws on drugs to wage a war on them, and all we ended up doing was putting a lot of people in jail, and little progress was made on reducing drug use.

I think maybe we need to focus on finding commonalities of the perpetrators of these heinous hate crimes and use the data for educational purposes and to better train law enforcement across the country. We also need to do better at treating everyone with the respect they deserve, for we are all unique but alike at the same time, and our commonalities should create bonds, not divisiveness.

Our job, individually, is to find common ground, promote civil discourse, acceptance, and knock down discrimination against anyone, including the transgender community, wherever and whenever we encounter it. It is the marginalization of and discrimination against transgender people that too often drive them to the fringes of society in the first place, and make them particularly susceptible to becoming victims of abuse and murder.

Since its founding in 1980, the HRC has been advocating and educating the country on LGBTQ issues and promoting LGBTQ inclusiveness, and isn’t that a cornerstone of America, being a place where persecuted peoples from around the world can count on acceptance and success if given the chance?

Anyone reviewing the HRC tracking on transgender killings from year to year should feel the utmost need to do more to stand up to bigotry and hatred in all forms and from any source.

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